Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hey Soul Sister

I used to be such a great mom.  I stand in awe of my former self.
My young kids were always in bed by 7:30 PM, because I knew how important sleep is for developing brains.  They only watched G-rated movies, also on account of developing brains.  And they definitely, definitely listened exclusively to developmentally appropriate, enriching, brain-boosting music.  Classical and kids, mostly.  Sometimes 80’s.
Wow was I good.
Exactly when and how things changed is all so fuzzy.
I now find myself reading bedtime stories at 9:30 PM.  On school nights.  To the little kids.  When my husband is out-of-pocket I occasionally have to be somewhere with a bigger kid until, say, 9:25.  Such bedtimes would have been unfathomable to my former self.
Out of the dozens of movies shown on the car’s DVD system during our most recent 22 hour road trip, not one of them was rated G.  Squeaky wheels simply get more grease at times, even though my former self would have been indignant, insisting that I give each child equal consideration and think of developing brains for gosh sakes.
I got to hear ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ twice on that trip.  Sweet.
The penultimate example of how far I’ve slipped as a mom?  From the back of the van, a loud, in-your-face voice, totally on key and in tempo, singing:
Hey soul sister
Ain’t that mister mister
On the radio, stereo
The way you move ain’t fair you know
Hey soul sister
I don’t wanna miss
A single thing you do

The voice was Caleb’s.  He’s four.
A few days later, the same loud voice,
I wanna be a billionaire
So friekin’ bad
Buy all of the things I never had . . .    

Still on key, in tempo, in your face.

Time to regain control.   “Hey!  Let’s help Caleb learn a kid song!  You know, like the kind of songs we used to sing all the time?”  After a several second silence wherein we were all desperately trying to think of such a song, we hit upon Wheels on the Bus, managing to remember more than one verse.  Caleb finally caught on and sang the last few chords of the last chorus, “. . . all through the town!”

Once upon a time, I was such a great mom.  Today, I'm a mostly tired, once in a while great mom.  The parameters, the requirements, the demands of being a great mom are constantly shifting and changing, along with my kids. This would have been difficult, maybe impossible, for me to understand back in the days when all my kids were snugly tucked into bed by 7:30 PM.

Caleb just walked by me, singing at the top of his lungs:
                                       Baby, are you down, down, down, down, down
                                       Do-ow-ow-ow-n, Do-ow-ow-ow-n
                                       Even if the sky is falling down
                                       Do-ow-ow-ow-n, Do-ow-ow-ow-n

Wheels on the Bus didn't take.  And I'm so okay with that.
 Just before piling into the car for the 22 hour road trip.
Susie, Caleb [4], Jeff
Kirsten [almost 15], Rob [13], Seth [9], Emma [7]


  1. Oh, I can relate so well. I'm holding my breath thinking of what Mason may say (or sing) in preschool this year. Poor sixth child is growing up in a totally different home with more more parents than he can count on one hand.

  2. Ha ha! I can SO remember when your kids were in bed by 7! Mark and I thought you were crazy and incredibly strict. Now that I have 3 of my own I know how hard--but important--it is to get them into bed at a reasonable hour! Unfortunately for us, that is also creeping closer to 9 :)

    And I think the music goes out the window because your older ones whine so much about "having to listen to kid music." I get that from Tyler all the time now that he is approaching 8. It's tempting to turn it off to quell his whining, but I haven't yet. Remind me to give you my copies of the "Beethoven's Wig" CDs.... it's classical music even the older ones will listen to, and then you'll feel better!

  3. As I put my third grader to bed at 11 pm the other night, I prayed for forgiveness. In Joy School when June was 3, her favorite songs listed in her scrapbook were definitely not from the Raffi or Barney CD, and her favorite movie was Napolean Dynamite...I guess that's G-rated. Do you think their brains will turn to mush eventually? Matt is really worried about June, and tells her often. I guess we can't possibly know the outcome on the last children, just keep a prayer in your heart someone makes up the difference for the pop music filling their brains. I sure love reading about your life and thoughts. YOU are inspiring.

  4. Uh oh. What's it mean if my kids are doing some of these things already and my oldest is only 5...? We better stop at 3.

  5. Yeah. I relate, too. Audrey loves the song soul sister, sings it, and I think it is so cute. Yeah, we watch about half and half PG and G. Partly because the adults enjoy hearing the PG movies while driving. Love your family picture. You are still a great mom. I think that the younger ones are learning to adapt and be flexible and to learn the balances that exist in this life. :-)